By Tom "TomBsTone" Bronneberg on September 8, 2020
Who hasn't fantasized about being a superhero? I know I have done so many times during my childhood, and last Saturday when I was a bit tipsy. The developers at Crystal Dynamics, in collaboration with Eidos-Montréal, have taken up the challenge of turning our dreams into reality with this massive project, published by Square Enix: Marvel's Avengers.
Now before I get to the juicy part I'm putting down a disclaimer, because this is a topic that will trigger many fanatics and fans around the world. This game will get a lot of attention, be it good or bad. Personally I think you will have to decide this for yourself. The publishers were so kind to send us a very detailed guide about the game and the characters, I presume because of precautions about the aforementioned attention. And to be honest I didn't read it all... Okay, I skipped through it a bit, but I wanted to play this game open minded, experience it the way the game designers intended it. And form my opinion the only right way. which means smashing the crap out of everything that moves, of course. HULK SMASH!!!
Marvel's Avengers is an action / adventure game, according to the general press statement, but I would like to add brawler to that title. Because, like in the golden days of games like Double Dragon, Streets of Rage and Fighting Force, you will be fighting enemies most of the time. But this time in a more adventure-influenced game design. For the majority of the time I had to prepare this review, I played the Single player campaign, because I just don't like online multiplayer, I'm old-fashioned that way. That being said, there is an online matchmaking option in the Single player campaign that lets you play co-op in the story mode, so you can smash stuff together with your friends.
The game is built around its own timeline and you start the game's prologue/tutorial as a young girl, Kamala Khan, better known as Miss Marvel. After a serious disaster you are confronted with a setting a few years in the future and it's up to grownup Kamala to reignite the Avengers flame and save the world from evil. I'm not going to tell you any more than this because of one simple reason: I don't want to spoil anything story-related!
The single player campaign is really well designed. It could and maybe should be the next official Avengers movie, albeit in a parallel universe or different timeline. From the very start you're taken on a fantastic choreographed journey, dotted with beautiful crafted cutscenes and top-notch voice acting. And even though all heroes and villains have a unique appearance, which is best described as a mix between the comics and the movie adaptations, you feel an instant familiarity with all of them. All of this combined means you are really pulled into this epic game-movie experience. Too bad the loading screens are a bit long, otherwise it would have almost been like going to the theatre.
During your playthrough, you will constantly change up your playable characters depending on what mission you select. This is furthermore governed by what heroes are available during that mission, depending on the story. I think this is a great feature because you get to play the game and experience its story as it was intended. I really like games that design their levels around the playable characters. And while this takes up more time and effort when designing the levels, it does reward the player with a much better overall experience, as well as a more accomplished feeling. Sometimes there are multiple options in what Avenger you want to play as, which is also clearly reflected in the level design. Besides selecting your favorite Avengers, the game is packed to the brim with collectables, gear, artefacts and loads of other stuff to find. So never forget to explore your surroundings in order to find all of the collectables and much needed gear upgrades.
As I mentioned earlier, the voice acting in Marvel's Avengers is top-notch. For example, playing as Thor you will constantly hear him compliment himself on how mighty he is. This is as hilarious as the awesome movie adaptation by Chris Hemsworth himself. The newest addition to the Avengers universe, Kamala Kahn, is adorable and funny in her own right. But my favorite by far has to be the Incredible Hulk! I mean, come on; everybody wants to play as the Hulk. And he does not disappoint, let me tell you! Running, jumping, throwing and smashing around with one of the most awesome characters in the marvel universe is such a joy in its own right. Seeing him kick open treasure chests because his hands are probably too big in the first place is an added bonus. And again the voice acting is perfect here. My only complaint would be that Bruce Banner seems to have an infinite supply of purple shirts and matching jeans.. I would have loved to see him in shredded clothes or a silly t-shirt from time to time.
Talking about "how the avengers look", the graphics are a subtle mix between action movie and video game. The cutscenes are smooth, with the same look and feel you get during actual gameplay. This lack of obvious cuts adds a lot to the overall "movie-esque" feel of the game, complementing the story mode by choosing the right camera angles in scripted parts of the level design, which is always a smart move. Doing this takes a keen eye for dramatic scenes and shows the effort they put into this game. Like in panic scenes when running away from explosions or creepy locations and crawlspaces. Or in flight-mode, for example by playing Ironman, you truly feel in control of your Avenger. Because the levitation aspect is smooth, the camera angles change at the right moments and spatial camera distancing is automatic and feels exactly right to give you a wide overview of the situation while still feeling in control of your Avenger.
The gameplay itself feels just right; the controls are intuitive and easy to learn. Combos and specials are displayed on screen when available and the specials and supers of all the Avengers are unique and perfectly scripted for the characters. Add the ability to re-skin you characters with collectable unique designs and you're all set for the online multiplayer option to showcase your skills and collectables. With all the different game options and configurations in the multiplayer, this should be a topic of its own. Sadly there is not enough room on this webpage to cover it all, and I really just want to smash stuff as the Hulk. So I'll let you off with my final thoughts.
Marvel's Avengers is a game we've all been waiting for. And I know that high expectations are barely ever met, but I highly recommend you to play this game and enjoy the main story and gameplay. My educated guess is you will not be disappointed!
"Don't do anything I would do, and definitely don't do anything I wouldn't do. There's a little gray area in there, and that's where you operate." - Tony Stark